America Decides 2004 from West Bank to Faith-based: Kerry’s Take on Community’s Issues

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, in recent weeks has published a number of talking points on issues of concern to Jewish voters. Here are some of his stated positions, compiled from the talking points, the party platform, his Web site and his speeches.

ISRAEL:

West Bank security barrier:

“John Kerry supports the construction of Israel’s security fence to stop terrorists from entering Israel. The security fence is a legitimate act of self defense erected in response to the wave of terror attacks against Israeli citizens. He believes the security fence is not a matter for the International Court of Justice” (Talking points.)

Gaza Strip withdrawal:

“John Kerry expressed support for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s unprecedented plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. He recognizes that in any final settlement for Israel to remain a Jewish state, Palestinians mus! t settle in a future Palestinian state rather than in Israel, and that in light of demographic realities, a number of settlement blocs will likely become a part of Israel.” (Talking points.)

Israel’s borders:

“The creation of a Palestinian state should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel. Furthermore, all understand that it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.” (Democratic Party platform.)

Yasser Arafat:

“John Kerry believes that Yasser Arafat is a failed leader and unfit partner for peace and therefore has supported his total isolation. He has demanded a new, responsible Palestinian leadership, committed to ending the violence and fighting terror — in word and in deed — and will work tirelessly to ensure that this new leadership emerges.” (Talking points.)

THE U.S. ROLE:

! “Energetic American leadership is essential to helping them achieve t hat peace because the United States is the one country with the ability to work with all the parties to facilitate a necessary and meaningful dialogue. John Kerry sees the Bush Administration’s road map — albeit long overdue — as an acceptable approach for reinvigorating the peace process. But it will only be viable if U.S. engagement in this process is active, constant, and at the highest levels. The United States cannot walk away or lessen its commitment to this process when violence erupts and the going gets rough. Failure to remain actively engaged will lead to further difficulties down the road and set the prospects for peace farther back. John Kerry believes we must work actively to encourage an end to the violence and to help the parties take the steps outlined by the road map — which both Israelis and Palestinians find difficult. And we must be realistic about what they can and cannot accomplish.” (JohnKerry.com)

Jerusalem:

“John Kerry has long advocate! d moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s indisputable capital. In 1999, he signed a letter taking President Clinton to task for not moving the embassy.” (Talking points.)

THE MIDDLE EAST:

Iran:

“John Kerry understands that a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable. He believes the failure of the Bush administration to thwart Iran’s efforts to amass nuclear weapons poses a real threat to the safety and security of Israel, the U.S. and the rest of the free world.” (Talking points.)

Syria:

“Kerry co-sponsored the Syria Accountability Act, which includes a ban on the export of military and dual-use items to Syria. He believes that ‘we must ensure that Syria does not acquire and distribute additional weapons, thereby exasperating tensions in the Middle East, raising potential threats to Israel, and undermining arms control.’ ” (Talking points.)

Anti-Semitism:

“When I sat with (Egyptian) President (Hosni) Mubarak, I pulled ! out newspaper articles and showed him what was being said in his own p apers, I mean as if he didn’t know, but I wanted him to know, and I wanted him to answer to me with accountability for what was being said about Israel and for what was being said about Jewish responsibility for 9/11, and the conspiracy theories that were allowed to be printed publicly, and how completely compromising that was to any suggestion that they were interested in peace and so forth . . . If I were president, I believe that I could hold accountability where it hasn’t been. If I were president, I would change the relationship in the Middle East with those countries.” (Speech in June to B’nai B’rith international conference)

DOMESTIC ISSUES:

Abortion:

“John Kerry believes that women have the right to control their own bodies, their own lives, and their own destinies. He believes that the Constitution protects their right to choose and to make their own decisions in consultation with their doctor, their conscience, and their God. He will defe! nd this right as president. He recently announced he will support only pro-choice judges to the Supreme Court. Kerry also believes that we should promote family planning and health plans should assure women contraceptive coverage.” (JohnKerry.com)

Judicial nominees:

“As lifetime appointees, judicial nominees will shape fundamental issues such as civil rights, religious freedom, privacy rights and freedom of speech for decades to come. Conservative judges bent on enforcing ideology rather than interpreting the law have recently undermined landmark achievements such as the Violence Against Women Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. John Kerry believes that individuals appointed to all of our federal courts must be committed to interpreting the law and preserving constitutional and civil rights.” (JohnKerry.com)

Religious freedom:

“The Workplace Religious Freedom Act will restore the weight to the reli! gious accommodation provision that Congress originally intended and he lp assure that employers have a meaningful obligation to reasonably accommodate their employees’ religious practices. The restoration of this protection is no small matter. For many religiously observant Americans, the greatest peril to their ability to carry out their religious faiths on a day-to-day basis may come from employers. I have heard accounts from around the country about employers who will not make reasonable accommodations for employees to observe the Sabbath and other holy days, or for employees to wear religiously required garb, such as a yarmulke, or for employees to wear clothing that meets religion-based modesty requirements.” (Senate speech, April 11 2003, introducing bill he co-authored with Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.)

Faith-based initiatives:

“Throughout our nation’s history, faith-based organizations have strengthened families and supported communities struggling with poverty, grief and disaster. John Kerry believes that the federal govern! ment must find ways to use the enormous energy and skill of faith-based organizations. But he also knows there are important boundaries between the realm of churches, mosques, and synagogues and the realm of the state, and that our Constitution prohibits any government role in the establishment of religion. Government money should not support religious proselytizing or other religious activity and should not finance discrimination.” (Campaign fact sheet)

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